Kickstarter Lesson #96: Give Credit Where Credit Is Due…Including to Yourself

15 May 2014 | 12 Comments

Approximately 1 month ago, after my Tuscany Kickstarter campaign had ended, a backer sent me a message about a new campaign run by another company that had some very familiar text on the project page in the “Why Pledge Now” section:

Why Pledge Now

Pretty similar, right? They didn’t offer a money-back guarantee, but everything else is there, almost verbatim.

When I saw this, I flipped down to the end of the page to the Risks and Challenges section to see if the project creator had credited Tuscany or Stonemaier Games for the original version of the text. Nothing there.

Now, this really isn’t a huge deal. Project page text isn’t proprietary information, and the whole point of what I do on this blog and on Kickstarter is to help other project creators and their backers. I’m flattered that this creator used Tuscany’s project text as a template for their project page if they found it to be an effective way to communicate to backers.

Rather, I think this is a foundation for a Kickstarter Lesson: It never hurts to give credit.

It never hurts to give credit. Think about your life. When someone credits you (this is different than when someone blames you for something–credit is a good thing) for doing something you actually did, it feels good, right?

This is why people say that hyperlinks are the currency of the internet (not Bitcoin!). If you write a blog entry that cites another blog, that blogger probably won’t know about it unless you insert a link in your post to their entry. Also, readers of your post won’t be able to click over to the other blog unless you insert the link. So by including the hyperlink, it’s like giving a small tip to the other blogger, and I guarantee that they will appreciate it.

Conversely, it can hurt to not give credit. And I’m not even talking about the repercussion of plagiarism–I’m talking about the human spirit. Think about the last time at work that you did something you were proud of, and someone else took credit for it or didn’t give you credit for it. How did that feel?

You get the same feeling when you see your name in the list of proofreaders or playtesters in a rulebook. There’s a sense of pride, of ownership. It feels good to be credited.

Translate that to Kickstarter. You’re a backer on a project, and you sent a neat idea the project creator in a private message. That creator later posts an update with that same idea, but they don’t mention you at all. How does that feel?

Again, usually this isn’t a huge deal. 10 other people may have sent the same idea to the creator, or the creator may have had the same idea well before you sent it to him or her. Rather, not only is it a lost opportunity to make a backer feel good, but the creator has also probably made at least one person feel bad. Sometimes the success or failure of a Kickstarter project can hinge on how those good and bad feelings add up over time.

No one is perfect. I’m sure that I’ve missed opportunities to give credit in the past. Usually it’s because I can’t remember who mentioned the idea to me, or I read something online and can’t find the original link despite frantic Googling. But I do my best to give credit as often as possible, and if someone calls me out on it, I make up for it in the future.

It’s Important to Credit Yourself

I’ve had this blog entry idea on the back burner for a while, but I’m glad I didn’t write it until today. Just this morning, the designer of Tuscany Automa and Stonemaier advisory board member Morten Monrad Pedersen sent me a great article by Raph Koster. If you check it out, the section that really stood out to me is called “Then you take credit.”

In that section, Raph talks about the importance of properly crediting yourself for your work. Be humble and honest about it, of course–and when you’re wrong, take responsibility–but when you make something, you deserve credit for it. This is your reputation you’re building, your brand. Put your name on your work and be proud of it.

In that same section, Raph adds that you should say “we,” not “I.” I understand what he’s getting at–it’s rare that anyone will create anything all by themselves–but I actually recommend the opposite. People often use “we” because it sounds more credible than “I.” If you run a one-man show, use “I”. As in “I ran a successful Kickstarter campaign.” Sure, you had artists and designers and backers and maybe even business partners who gave you advice and support. But did they run the campaign? No, you did. Take credit for your work.

A side benefit is that if you get in the habit of taking credit for your work with the singular “I” instead of “we,” that will carry over to taking responsibility or blame. “We” didn’t mess up. I messed up. Taking responsibility and ownership for your failures is just as important as taking credit for your successes.


What do you think? Can you think of an example on Kickstarter where giving credit made a visibly positive impact on the campaign or your response to the campaign?

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12 Comments on “Kickstarter Lesson #96: Give Credit Where Credit Is Due…Including to Yourself

  1. Well, to give credit where it is due: my wife was proofreading and said she really disliked it, because it was very negative. After some back and forth we figured out why the voice of the post was so sour. I respect my wife and her opinion very much. Thus, the last second rewrite.

  2. Now, I don’t generally like to comment on your posts way late like this, but you really got me thinking today. I do throw “We” around a lot when I probably should use “I”.

    Also, my Money Matters post was rewritten hours before you saw it because I had made a crucial mistake: I used a whole lot of “You”. YOU would do this, you would have this effect, your customers would feel this way – I would know about it. It made the entire post feel negative and accusatory.

    1. Derik: I see all comments, so it’s totally fine for you to comment on old posts. :)

      That’s interesting that you caught yourself using the second person in your money matters post–I can see how it might come across as accusatory that way. Good catch!

  3. I tend to use “we” when giving credit. I agree with you, Jamey, that I may have run my Kickstarter all by myself but it would not exist to be run without the help of our entire team and even others outside that team. So, I will say “we” when talking about the good things that are happening or in giving credit.

    I also will only use “I” when laying blame or taking responsibility. While there is still a team in place, I am the leader of that team and whatever goes wrong is ultimately my responsibility (at least publicly). If there is really an issue with a team member I will address it with that person in private, but I will never throw one of my team members under the bus publicly.

    With all that being said, I must take this opportunity to once again thank you, Jamey, for giving us all such great advice. I will gladly give you credit for everywhere you have helped me learn the process of Kickstarter. :)

    1. Jeff: I certainly don’t think it can ever hurt to credit a group of people even if you’re the one primarily doing the work–it’s great that you do that (as well as the converse when taking blame or responsibility). Thanks for your thoughts and your kind words!

  4. Erik–That’s a great point. For those out there like you who are trying to help people, when publishers give you credit, it gives you the opportunity to help more people, which is awesome. I thought along those same lines in terms of the project I mentioned at the beginning of this entry. If they had attributed that text to Tuscany or to these Kickstarter Lessons, it would have given more people access to what I hope is a helpful blog for Kickstarter creators.

  5. Whenever I do reviews of rulebooks for kickstarter games, I tell them about the review and make sure to link their campaign because despite what I think of their rulebook people might be interested in their game. Usually the people running the campaign sent out tweets and let their backers know I reviewed the game or if I worked with them to make their rulebook better let backers know about me and how they are committed to making their product as good as it can be.

    This helps me get more people to help, helps me up the quality of some kickstarters games, and seriously helps me expand my resume in doing so and building up my own site. I actually did a post a while back where I asked for opinions and used direct quotes from users on BGG as well, people liked their moment in the spotlight and it not only made them feel good, it made me happy to have brightened there day.

  6. As an agent of change in my organization, I’m very selective of when I use “we”, “I” or “you”. The terms are so subtle, but depending on the need, choosing the correct one can accomplish so much. For instance, when introducing change, I often use “We will need to” instead of “You will need to”. Granted, I really don’t need to do anything, but the underlying message is “We’re in this together.” Also, whenever I program or implement something that I know will benefit all, I tend to use the term “We’re pleased to announce”. That way the respect from those who benefit is not aimed just towards myself, but instead towards our company’s leadership. Vice Versa, I always use “I” when admitting to mistakes, even if they are only a small fraction my fault. The reason: People don’t like people who blame other people for their mistakes (even if the other people are really to blame). I also find that using the “I” term in admitting mistakes goes a long way in establishing a trusting relationship. Good thoughts Jamie!

  7. On the Tiny Epic Kingdoms project, Michael Coe made a habit of choosing an excellent question posted in the comments thread, and including it in a future update, making sure to reference the user who contributed the question.

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